SUNRAYSIA man John Burfitt was recovering from a stroke when he learnt of Bendigo boy Jett Hamley’s battle to beat a rare brain cancer.
A social media post from a friend concerned by both the 63-year-old’s health, and that of the then 13-month-old boy, forged a connection in John’s mind.
On Friday, he will shave his head in the hopes of helping Jett’s family stay by the toddler’s side as he undergoes chemotherapy in Melbourne.
“My thoughts were turned to him very much while I was in The Alfred,” John said.
“It helped me a great deal because it took my mind off my own problems.”
John has been selling ribbons to aid the cause. He hopes to meet Jett and his family for the first time when he is able to present a cheque.
A Go Fund Me campaign has raised more than $15,500 to help Jett’s parents, Jess Wilson and Ash Hamley, support him through treatment.
There have been other fundraisers, too, such as online auctions and a night of classic country music.
Jett and his family were in Melbourne, preparing for another round of chemotherapy, when they learnt of the Sunraysia man’s plans to help.
Ash, Jett’s father, was amazed by John’s generosity.
He said the central Victorian community’s support had been terrific.
“I was very shocked at the amount of good people that are around,” he said.
The kindness people have shown to the family has boosted his faith in humanity, and has eased some of the financial pressures the family has faced.
John is well known within the Sunraysia community for his generosity, particularly when it comes to helping the families of children faced with illness.
He runs a registered charity, C.H.A.I.L.I.S, which stands for Children having an illness living in Sunraysia.
John said the families in Sunraysia faced a similar challenge to those in central Victoria – the tyranny of distance.
He knows how taxing travelling to Melbourne for treatment and medical appointments can be for regional families.
Since Jett resides in Bendigo, John said he could not run the fundraising effort through C.H.A.I.L.I.S.
The Sunraysia man said people could call him on 03 5024 1576 for information about donating.
John’s shave is scheduled for noon on Friday in Langtree Mall in Mildura.